We’ve highlighted 10 books that are perfect for reading during Mental Health Awareness Month.
Did you know May is Mental Health Awareness Month? Mental health is often seen as a taboo subject — and therefore no one really wants to bring it up or acknowledge it’s presence. However, one in four people is affected by mental illness – whether they suffer themselves or know someone who is. Most are afraid to speak up because of the ever-present stigma surrounding it. Fortunately, there are many books that effectively cover this subject. The following ten books are great tools for starting conversations about this difficult subject matter.
1. How Full is Your Bucket? for Kids by Tom Rath & Mary Reckmeyer
This adaptation of the popular adult title shows children how every interaction they have in a day makes a difference. As Felix goes about his day and interacts with different people, he realizes that when he is kind, it’s not only good for others, but it is good for him too. How Full is Your Bucket? for Kids is a great conversation starter that teaches kids that how we choose to relate to others has a profound effect on every aspect of our lives.
2. Michael Rosen’s Sad Book by Michael Rosen
With pure honesty, a touch of humor, and sensitive illustrations, Michael Rosen explores the experience of sadness in a way that resonates with everyone. Sad things happen to everyone, and sometimes people feel sad for no reason at all. What makes Michael Rosen sad is thinking about his son, Eddie, who died suddenly at the age of eighteen. In this book, Rosen writes about his sadness, how it affects him, and some of the things he does to cope with it–like telling himself that everyone has sad stuff and trying every day to do something he can be proud of.
3. The Goldfish Boy by Lisa Thompson
Matthew Corbin suffers from severe obsessive-compulsive disorder. However, when a toddler staying next door goes missing, it becomes apparent that Matthew was the last person to see him alive. Suddenly, Matthew finds himself at the center of a high-stakes mystery, and every one of his neighbors is a suspect. Matthew is the key to figuring out what happened and potentially saving a child’s life… but is he able to do so if it means exposing his own secrets, and stepping out from the safety of his home? This novel successfully weaves Matthew’s personal struggle with obsessive-compulsive disorder and the search for the missing toddler into a compelling story with a hearty dose of mystery and adventure.
4. A Corner of the Universe by Ann M. Martin
Hattie’s predictable smalltown life is turned on end when her uncle Adam returns home for the first time in over ten years. Hattie has never met him, never known about him. He’s been institutionalized; his condition involves schizophrenia and autism. Hattie, a shy girl who prefers the company of adults, takes immediately to her excitable uncle, even when the rest of the family have trouble dealing with his intense way of seeing the world. And Adam, too, sees that Hattie is special and that her quiet, shy ways are not a disability.
1. The Memory of Light by Francisco X. Stork
When Victoria Cruz wakes up in the psychiatric ward of a Texas hospital after her failed suicide attempt, she still has no desire to live, but as the weeks pass and she meets Dr. Desai and three of the other patients, she begins to reflect on the reasons why she feels like a loser compared with the rest of her family, and to see a path ahead where she can make a life of her own. Inspired in part by the author’s own experience with depression, this novel focuses not on the events leading up to a suicide attempt, but the recovery from one — about living when life doesn’t seem worth it, and how to go on anyway.
2. Project Semicolon: Your Story Isn’t Over by Amy Bleuel
Project Semicolon began in 2013 to spread a message of hope: No one struggling with a mental illness is alone; you, too, can survive and live a life filled with joy and love. In support of the project and its message, thousands of people all over the world have gotten semicolon tattoos and shared photos of them. Project Semicolon: Your Story Isn’t Over reveals dozens of new portraits and stories from people of all ages talking about what they have endured and what they want for their futures. This collection tells a story of choice: every day you choose to live and let your story continue on.
3. Turtles All the Way Down by John Green
Sixteen-year-old Aza never intended to pursue the mystery of fugitive billionaire Russell Pickett, but there’s a hundred-thousand-dollar reward at stake and her best friend, Daisy, is eager to investigate. So together, they navigate the short distance and broad divides that separate them from Russell Pickett’s son, Davis. Aza is trying. She is trying to be a good daughter, a good friend, a good student, and maybe even a good detective, while also living within the ever-tightening spiral of her own thoughts. Turtles All the Way Down creates an intimate portrait of what it’s like to live with anxiety and OCD that will truly resonate with readers.
1. Authentic Self-Love: A Path to Healing the Self and Relationships by Sepideh Irvani Psy.D.
We’ve all heard the cliche “before you can love someone else, you have to love yourself”. But what does that actually mean? What does it mean to truly love yourself? Why must you love yourself before you can experience a meaningful relationship? How can you recognize authentic love? Clinical Psychologist, Sepideh Irvani, Psy.D., answers these questions and more in Authentic Self-Love: A Path to Healing the Self and Relationships. For those struggling to accept themselves and find love in their lives, Irvani offers a fresh, new take on the same old cliche.
2. Furiously Happy: A Funny Book about Horrible Things by Jenny Lawson
In her hysterical, yet poignant memoir, Jenny Lawson examines her own experience with severe depression and a host of other conditions, and explains how it has led her to live life to the fullest. Furiously Happy is a book about mental illness, but under the surface it’s about embracing joy in fantastic and outrageous ways — and who doesn’t need a bit more of that?
3. Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger’s by John Elder Robison
Ever since he was young, John Robison longed to connect with other people, but by the time he was a teenager, his odd habits — an inclination to blurt out non sequiturs, avoid eye contact, dismantle radios, and dig five-foot holes (and stick his younger brother in them) — had earned him the label “social deviant.” It was not until he was forty that he was diagnosed with a form of autism called Asperger’s syndrome. That understanding transformed the way he saw himself–and the world. A born storyteller, Robison has written a moving, darkly funny memoir about a life that has taken him from developing exploding guitars for KISS to building a family of his own.
This post was written by Megan Habel, the brand strategist at BookPal. She is currently reading Born to Build by Jim Clifton and Sangeeta Badal.